When Laurence Waters arrives at his rural posting, Frank is instantly suspicious. Laurence is everything Frank is not - young, optimistic and full of new schemes. The two become uneasy friends, while the rest of the staff in the deserted hospital view Laurence with a mixture of awe and mistrust. The town beyond the hospital is also coping with new arrivals, and the return of old faces. The brigadier - a self-fashioned dictator from apartheid days - is rumoured to still be alive. And down at Mama's place, a group of soldiers have moved in with their malign commandant, a man Frank has met before and is keen to avoid. Laurence wants to help - bit in a world where the past is demanding restitution from the present, his ill-starred idealism cannot last.